The Right to Information Act, 2005

What is this Act about?

This law is meant to increase transparency and good governance - it provides citizens with the right to ask for information from public bodies.

How can I use this Act?

You can access information such as details of project budgets, implementation status, status of any complaint/application you have made to any government body etc.

Who can ask for information?

Any citizen can make an application for information.

Do I have to pay for information?

Yes, there is an application fee that has to be paid with each application - this fee varies across the Centre and the States. Usually, the amount is Rs. 10. Additionally, for providing the information, you will have to make payments based on the number of pages or the type of electronic records – this again varies across the Centre and States.

How do I file an RTI?

  • Understand what kind of information you want and where you can get it from.
  • Identify the ‘Public Information Officer’ of the public authority and write out an application to the PIO. Try to make the questions as specific as possible.
  • Include your name and all contact details so that the information can be delivered conveniently.
  • Send it to the PIO by post or else personally go and deliver it to her.
  • Figure out the fees you need to pay based on whether it is a Central or State public authority you are approaching. A useful compilation for states is available here.
  • For the public authorities under the Central Government, you can also file applications online using the RTI Online Portal.

For an idea on how public authorities respond to RTI applications, you can read the queries and answers made available online by the Ministry of External Affairs and Passport Office.

Updated till Nov, 2016
The Right To Information Act, 2005

1. Short title, extent and commencement.—

(1) This Act may be called the Right to Information Act, 2005.
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
(3) The provisions of sub‑section (1) of section 4, sub‑sections (1) and (2) of section 5, sections 12, 13, 15, 16, 24, 27 and 28 shall come into force at once, and the remaining provisions of this Act shall come into force on the one hundred and twentieth day of its enactment.”;
  • This Act applies to the whole of India (except Jammu and Kashmir).
  • The sections relating to appointment of officers who will facilitate the right to information (public information officers) and establishment of monitoring bodies (information commissions) came into force on June 15, 2005.
  • The rest of the Act came into force on October 12, 2005.

2. Definitions.—

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,— (a) “appropriate Government” means in relation to a public authority which is established, constituted, owned, controlled or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly— (i) by the Central Government or the Union territory administration, the Central Government; (ii) by the State Government, the State Government; (b) “Central Information Commission” means the Central Information Commission constituted under sub‑section (1) of section 12; (c) “Central Public Information Officer” means the Central Public Information Officer designated under sub‑section (1) and includes a Central Assistant Public Information Officer designated as such under sub‑section (2) of section 5; (d) “Chief Information Commissioner” and “Information Commissioner” mean the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner appointed under sub‑section (3) of section 12; (e) “competent authority” means— (i) the Speaker in the case of the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of a State or a Union territory having such Assembly and the Chair­man in the case of the Council of States of a Legislative Council of States; (ii) the Chief Justice of India in the case of the Supreme Court; (iii) the Chief Justice of the High Court in the case of a High Court; (iv) the President or the Governor, as the case may be, in the case of other authorities established or constituted by or under the Constitution; (v) the administrator appointed under article 239 of the Constitution; (f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e‑mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; (g) “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act by the appropriate Government or the competent authority, as the case may be; (h) “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted,— (a) by or under the Constitution; (b) by any other law made by Parliament; (c) by any other law made by State Legislature; (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any— (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) non‑Government Organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government; (i) “record” includes— (i) any document, manuscript and file; (ii) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document; (iii) any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not); and (iv) any other material produced by a computer or any other device; (j) “right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to— (i) inspection of work, documents, records; (ii) taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records; (iii) taking certified samples of material; (iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device; (k) “State Information Commission” means the State Information Commission constituted under sub‑section (1) of section 15; (l) “State Chief Information Commissioner” and “State Information Commissioner” mean the State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioner appointed under sub‑section (3) of section 15; (m) “State Public Information Officer” means the State Public Information Officer designated under sub‑section (1) and includes a State Assistant Public Information Officer designated as such under sub‑section (2) of section 5; (n) “third party” means a person other than the citizen making a request for information and includes a public authority.
This section will define certain key terms that will be used repeatedly throughout the Act. Whenever these terms appear in this Act after this section, they will have the meanings that are explained here.

What is the 'right to information'?

It means the right to access any information that is held by a 'public authority'. It includes the right to:
  • inspect documents and records;
  • take notes and copies of documents and records;
  • take samples;
  • take information through electronic means (CDs etc.).

What kind of 'information' can I ask for?

You can ask for any type of information that is available in physical form (records, documents etc.) or electronic form (including e-mails). This could include information about a private body which can be accessed by any public authority under a particular law.

What is a 'public authority'?

This Act grants you the 'right of information' with respect to public authorities - a public authority is the government body or office that you can get information from. A public authority can be any of the following:
Type of organisation Example
Set up under the Constitution The Election Commission of India (Article 324 of the Constitution)
Set up under any law passed by the Parliament The National Human Rights Commission (under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993)
Set up under any law made by any State Legislature Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (under the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority Act, 1972)
Set up under any government notification Loss of Ecology (Prevention and Payment of Compensation) Authority is a body set up under a government notification.
Owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government (including non-governmental organizations) Organisation Committee Commonwealth Games is a non-governmental organization which has been substantially funded by the Government.

What is an 'appropriate government' under this Act?


Under this law, the government can make rules on how to access and deliver information that you seek, conduct awareness and training programmes for the public, and monitor the overall implementation of the Act. In relation a particular public authority, the appropriate government could be either the Central or State Government.
If the public authority is owned, started, or funded by the Central Government or by the administration of a Union Territory The Central Government
If the public authority is owned, started, or funded by the State Government The State Government

What is the Central or State Information Commission'?

If the public authority you have asked information from does not respond, you can file a complaint with a supervisory body called the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission.

Who is a 'competent authority'?

The competent authority is empowered to make rules under the Act.
In case of: The competent authority is:
The Lok Sabha The Speaker
The Rajya Sabha The Chairman
Any State Legislative Assembly The Speaker
Any State Legislative Council The Chairman
The Supreme Court The Chief Justice
Any High Court The Chief Justice
Authorities appointed under the Constitution for the Centre The President
Authorities appointed under the Constitution for a State The Governor
Authorities appointed under the Constitution for a Union Territory The Administrator under Article 239 of the Constitution

Who is a 'third party'?

Often public authorities hold information of other parties (including another public authority) - this information can be sought by a citizen who has filed an application under this Act. The Act contains certain rules which must be followed by the PIO in such situations.

3. Right to information.—

Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information.

Who can apply to get information under this Act?

Citizens have the right to access information from 'public authorities'. This means foreigners living in India and refugees do not have this right.

4. Obligations of public authorities.—

(1) Every public authority shall— (a) maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated; (b) publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,— (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed, and thereafter update these publications every year; (c) publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public; (d) provide reasons for its administrative or quasi judicial decisions to affected persons.
(2) It shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to take steps in accordance with the requirements of clause (b) of sub‑section (1) to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information.
(3) For the purpose of sub‑section (1), every information shall be disseminated widely and in such form and manner which is easily accessible to the public.
(4) All materials shall be disseminated taking into consideration the cost effectiveness, local language and the most effective method of communication in that local area and the information should be easily accessible, to the extent possible in electronic format with the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, available free or at such cost of the medium or the print cost price as may be prescribed. Explanation.— For the purposes of sub‑sections (3) and (4), “disseminated” means making known or communicated the information to the public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, the internet or any other means, including inspection of offices of any public authority.

What is a public authority supposed to do under this Act?

Some of the general duties of a public authority are:
  • To maintain all records in a systematic manner and to computerize and network all records which can be converted into electronic form;
  • To publish the facts and reasons for its policies which affect people;
  • To inform people affected of the reasons behind any administrative or other decisions;
  • To try and publish information regularly on its own, without any request from the public.
  • To make the information widely accessible to the public; and
  • To take into account local language and minimum costs while making information public.
The authorities also had to publish certain information about itself by October 2005 such as its internal regulations, powers and duties of employees, manner of supervision and accountability etc.

5. Designation of Public Information Officers.—

(1) Every public authority shall, within one hundred days of the enactment of this Act, designate as many officers as Central Public Information Officers or State Public Information Officers, as the case may be, in all administrative units or offices under it as may be necessary to provide information to persons requesting for the information under this Act.
(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub‑section (1), every public authority shall designate an officer, within one hundred days of the enactment of this Act, at each sub-divisional level or other sub‑district level as a Central Assistant Public Information Officer or a State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, to receive the applications for information or appeals under this Act for forwarding the same forthwith to the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified under sub‑section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be: Provided that where an application for information or appeal is given to a Central Assistant Public Information Officer or a State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, a period of five days shall be added in computing the period for response specified under sub‑section (1) of section 7.
(3) Every Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall deal with requests from persons seeking information and render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking such information.
(4) The Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may seek the assistance of any other officer as he or she considers it necessary for the proper discharge of his or her duties.
(5) Any officer, whose assistance has been sought under sub‑section (4), shall render all assistance to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, seeking his or her assistance and for the purposes of any contravention of the provisions of this Act, such other officer shall be treated as a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be.

Is it compulsory for a public authority to have a PIO/APIO?

  • Yes, all public authorities must have a Public Information Officer (PIO) and an Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) for each of its offices.
  • Depending on whether the public authority falls under the Central or State Government, the PIO will be called the Central PIO or the State PIO.
  • Central or State Assistant Public Information Officers had to be appointed at the sub-divisional or sub-district level.
  • They had to be appointed within 100 days of the Act coming into force.

Who do you address your application to?

You need to address the application to the Central/ State PIO or the Central/State APIO. The APIO can take 5 extra days to process the application.

Is the PIO the only officer responsible for giving information under this Act?

While applications for information are made only to the PIO/APIO, every officer in the public authority has a duty to help the PIO/APIO if she asks for help. If she does not help, she can be held liable under this Act just like the PIO/ APIO.

6. Request for obtaining information.—

(1) A person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed, to— (a) the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, of the concerned public authority; (b) the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, specifying the particulars of the information sought by him or her: Provided that where such request cannot be made in writing, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing.
(2) An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.
(3) Where an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information,— (i) which is held by another public authority; or (ii) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the public authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer: Provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this sub‑section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application.

What language should the application be in?

The application can be in either English, Hindi or the official language of the area.

How should the application be sent?

  • The application should be in writing.
  • It can be submitted personally, through post, e-mail or through online portals.
  • For public authorities under the authority of the Central Government, there is an online forum where RTI applications can be made directly. You can also access step-by-step guidelines on how to send an application through the online portal.
  • A useful compilation for states is available here.

Do I have to pay an application fee?

  • Yes, there is an application fee which varies for the Centre and for States.
  • For public authorities under the Central Government, this is Rs. 10.
  • For public authorities under the State Governments, please check rules applicable to each state here.

What if someone cannot make the request because they are illiterate or unable to write?

The PIO has a duty to help the person so that they can take down the request and put it in writing.

What if the application is sent to the wrong public authority by mistake?

The PIO who receives this application has a duty to transfer it within five days.

7. Disposal of request.—

(1) Subject to the proviso to sub‑section (2) of section 5 or the proviso to sub­-section (3) of section 6, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be on receipt of a request under section 6 shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in sections 8 and 9: Provided that where the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty‑eight hours of the receipt of the request.
(2) If the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be fails to give decision on the request for information within the period specified under sub‑section (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall be deemed to have refused the request.
(3) Where a decision is taken to provide the information on payment of any further fee representing the cost of providing the information, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall send an intimation to the person making the request, giving— (a) the details of further fees representing the cost of providing the information as determined by him, together with the calculations made to arrive at the amount in accordance with fee prescribed under sub‑section (1), requesting him to deposit that fees, and the period intervening between the despatch of the said intimation and payment of fees shall be excluded for the purpose of calculating the period of thirty days referred to in that sub‑section; (b) information concerning his or her right with respect to review the decision as to the amount of fees charged or the form of access provided, including the particulars of the appellate authority, time limit, process and any other forms.
(4) Where access to the record or a part thereof is required to be provided under this Act and the person to whom access is to be provided is sensorily disabled, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall provide assistance to enable access to the information, including providing such assistance as may be appropriate for the inspection.
(5) Where access to information is to be provided in the printed or in any electronic format, the applicant shall, subject to the provisions of sub‑section (6), pay such fee as may be prescribed: Provided that the fee prescribed under sub‑section (1) of section 6 and sub­-sections (1) and (5) of section 7 shall be reasonable and no such fee shall be charged from the persons who are of below poverty line as may be determined by the appropriate Government.
(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub‑section (5), the person making request for the information shall be provided the information free of charge where a public authority fails to comply with the time limits specified in sub‑section (1).
(7) Before taking any decision under sub‑section (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall take into consideration the representation made by a third party under section 11.
(8) Where a request has been rejected under sub‑section (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall communicate to the person making the request,— (i) the reasons for such rejection; (ii) the period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred; and (iii) the particulars of the appellate authority.
(9) An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question.

Does the applicant have to bear the costs of getting the information in printed or electronic form?

Yes, in addition to the application fees, there is also a fee for the information to be delivered (depending on format/number of pages).For the fees applicable to public authorities under the Central Government, please check the RTI Rules, 2012. For the fees applicable to public authorities, please check the individual state rules.

How long can the PIO take to provide the information that is requested?

30 days. If the application is made to an APIO, the information must be provided for in 35 days.

What if the information has some serious consequences on a person's life and is needed urgently?

The PIO should give the information within 48 hours.

Can the PIO refuse to give some information?

Yes, under this law, the PIO can refuse to answer certain applications. Please read Section 8 and 9 of this Act to figure out information which is generally exempt from this Act.

What happens if the information is not given within 30/35 days?

You have to assume that the PIO/APIO denied your request for information. Further, the PIO has a duty to provide the information free of charge.

What happens if my request is refused?

When the PIO refuses your request for information, she has to tell you:
  • why the request was refused
  • details of whom you can approach to appeal against this refusal, and
  • how much time you have to file this appeal.

What can I do if the PIO has not replied with information or has refused to give you the information unlawfully?

You can appeal to an officer senior in rank to the PIO or file a complaint with the Central or State Information Commission, if the PIO has denied your request unlawfully (that is, not for the allowed reasons in Sections 8 and 9) or within time.

Can the PIO ask me to pay more fees for the information?

  • Yes, she can. She will however have to justify the higher fee with proper calculations.
  • The time period between the notice for increased fees and its payment will be excluded from the 30 day period within which you were originally supposed to have received your information.

What if a person with disabilities has sought information under this Act?

The PIO should take care to ensure that the information is provided in such a way that the person can access it. For example, if the applicant is blind, the PIO should deliver the information in Braille.

What if someone is below the poverty line and cannot pay the fees?

The person will not be required to pay and the information will be provided free of charge.

8. Exemption from disclosure of information.—

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,— (a) information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence; (b) information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court; (c) information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature; (d) information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; (e) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; (f) information received in confidence from foreign government; (g) information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; (h) information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; (i) cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed; (j) information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has not relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information, which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
(2) Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923) nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub‑section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.
(3) Subject to the provisions of clauses (a), (c) and (i) of sub‑section (1), any information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which has taken place, occurred or happened twenty years before the date on which any request is made under section 6 shall be provided to any person making a request under that section: Provided that where any question arises as to the date from which the said period of twenty years has to be computed, the decision of the Central Government shall be final, subject to the usual appeals provided for in this Act.

Is there any information which the public authority can refuse to give?

If your application requests for the following kinds of information, the public authority can lawfully refuse to give you:
Kind of information Example
Information that affects the security and economic interests of the government with another country Government action plan against a terrorist group
Information that is banned from being published by any court or tribunal Sometimes, it may be necessary to protect the identity of certain witnesses in trials of sensitive matters (anti-terrorism and sexual assault cases). The court can impose a ban not allowing publication of such information.
Information that would result in a breach of privilege of the Legislature Communication between the National Advisory Council and the Prime Minister.
Information that would harm commercial interests Trade secrets of Coca-cola.
Information that arises because of a relationship based on trust Attorney-client privilege, doctor-patient confidentiality.
Information from a foreign government which was given as a secret Strategic military plans involving neighbouring countries
Information that exposes whistleblowers or endangers lives Identity of a whistleblower who has filed a complaint against a public servant
Information that would cause difficulty to police investigation or arrests in criminal cases Information relating to police strategy for finding missing accused in the course of investigation
Records of the Cabinet Ministers (reasons and materials can be made public after the decision is made) Reasons for demonetizing currency notes (prior to the decision being made public)
Personal information (however, such information has to be revealed to the Parliament or State Legislature if asked for) A politician having a child outside marriage.

Are there any exceptions to the exempted information?

Yes, if the information is more than 20 years old, it has to be given to the applicant. However, information relating to security and economic interests with another country, breach of parliamentary privilege and Cabinet proceedings can be denied even if it is more than 20 years old.

What if the date from which twenty years is calculated is not certain?

The Central Government will have the final say on this.

9. Grounds for rejection to access in certain cases.—

Without prejudice to the provisions of section 8, a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be may reject a request for information where such a request for providing access would involve an infringement of copyright subsisting in a person other than the State.

Is there any additional circumstance in which a request may be refused?

Yes, if the release of the information causes a copyright infringement, the PIO can refuse the request for information.

10. Severability.—

(1) Where a request for access to information is rejected on the ground that it is in relation to information which is exempt from disclosure, then, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, access may be provided to that part of the record which does not contain any information which is exempt from disclosure under this Act and which can reasonably be severed from any part that contains exempt information.
(2) Where access is granted to a part of the record under sub‑section (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall give a notice to the applicant, informing,— (a) that only part of the record requested, after severance of the record containing information which is exempt from disclosure, is being provided; (b) the reasons for the decision, including any findings on any material question of fact, referring to the material on which those findings were based; (c) the name and designation of the person giving the decision; (d) the details of the fees calculated by him or her and the amount of fee which the applicant is required to deposit; and (e) his or her rights with respect to review of the decision regarding non­-disclosure of part of the information, the amount of fee charged or the form of access provided, including the particulars of the senior officer specified under sub‑section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, time limit, process and any other form of access.

What if only a portion of the information I sought is exempted?

If the information contained in the record can be separately provided (not containing the exempted information), then the public authority should give you the information in response to your request.For example, details regarding vendors for purchase of defence equipment can be provided separately from details regarding the defence equipment being deployed during a conflict.

What procedure does the PIO have to follow in such cases?

The PIO has to give you a notice containing the following details:
  • Fact that only a portion of the records you asked for is being provided (the exempted information has been removed from the record)
  • Reasons for why this decision was made;
  • Name and designation of the person who gave the decision;
  • Details of fees to be paid; and
  • Your right to review this decision (including details of the appellate authorities/ officers and fees to be paid).

11. Third party information.—

(1) Where a Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made under this Act, which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose the information or record, or part thereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information: Provided that except in the case of trade or commercial secrets protected by law, disclosure may be allowed if the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party.
(2) Where a notice is served by the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, under sub‑section (1) to a third party in respect of any information or record or part thereof, the third party shall, within ten days from the date of receipt of such notice, be given the opportunity to make representation against the proposed disclosure.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in section 7, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within forty days after receipt of the request under section 6, if the third party has been given an opportunity to make representation under sub‑section (2), make a decision as to whether or not to disclose the information or record or part thereof and give in writing the notice of his decision to the third party.
(4) A notice given under sub‑section (3) shall include a statement that the third party to whom the notice is given is entitled to prefer an appeal under section 19 against the decision.

Can a PIO release information belonging to third parties?

  • If the RTI application you have made is in relation to confidential information belonging to a third party which was supplied to the public authority, the PIO has to follow certain steps.
  • First, the PIO has to send a notice to the third party within 5 days of getting the application.
  • Second, the third party has 10 days to agree with or object to the PIO releasing its confidential information to you.
  • After giving the third party an opportunity to make its submissions, the PIO has to make a decision on whether to disclose the information to you within 40 days of receiving the application. The PIO will at the same time send a notice to the third party regarding her decision - the third party has the option to appeal against this decision.

12. Constitution of Central Information Commission.—

(1) The Central Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a body to be known as the Central Information Commission to exercise the powers conferred on, and to perform the functions assigned to, it under this Act.
(2) The Central Information Commission shall consist of— (a) the Chief Information Commissioner, and (b) such number of Central Information Commissioners not exceeding ten as may be deemed necessary.
(3) The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of— (i) the Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee; (ii) the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and (iii) a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister. tc " (iii) a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister." Explanation.— For the purposes of removal of doubts it is hereby declared that where the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People has not been recognised as such, the Leader of the single largest group in opposition of the Government in the House of the People shall be deemed to be the Leader of the Opposition.
(4) The general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the Central Information Commission shall vest in the Chief Information Commissioner who shall be assisted by the Information Commissioners and may exercise all such powers and do all such acts and things which may be exercised or done by the Central Information Commission autonomously without being subjected to directions by any other authority under this Act.
(5) The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
(6) The Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union territory, as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
(7) The headquarters of the Central Information Commission shall be at Delhi and the Central Information Commission may, with the previous approval of the Central Government, establish offices at other places in India.
This section talks about the setting up of the Central Information Commission. The Central Information Commission can conduct inquiries into complaints regarding public authorities dealing of RTI applications. Please read more about how the CIC functions can be found here.

13. Term of office and conditions of service.—

(1) The Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment: Provided that no Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office as such after he has attained the age of sixty‑five years.
(2) Every Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office or till he attains the age of sixty‑five years, whichever is earlier, and shall not be eligible for reappointment as such Information Commissioner: Provided that every Information Commissioner shall, on vacating his office under this sub‑section be eligible for appointment as the Chief Information Commissioner in the manner specified in sub‑section (3) of section 12: Provided further that where the Information Commissioner is appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner, his term of office shall not be more than five years in aggregate as the Information Commissioner and the Chief Information Commissioner.
(3) The Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall, before he enters upon his office make and subscribe before the President or some other person appointed by him in that behalf, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the First Schedule.
(4) The Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner may, at any time, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign from his office: Provided that the Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner may be removed in the manner specified under section 14.
(5) The salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of— (a) the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner; (b) an Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner: Provided that if the Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner, at the time of his appointment is, in receipt of a pension (other than a disability or wound pension) in respect of any previous service under the Government of India or under the Government of a State, his salary in respect of the service as the Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall be reduced by the amount of that pension including any portion of pension which was commuted and pension equivalent of other forms of retirement benefits excluding pension equivalent of retirement gratuity: Provided further that if the Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner if, at the time of his appointment is, in receipt of retirement benefits in respect of any previous service rendered in a Corporation established by or under any Central Act or State Act or a Government company owned or controlled by the Central Government or the State Government, his salary in respect of the service as the Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall be reduced by the amount of pension equivalent to the retirement benefits: Provided also that the salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners shall not be varied to their disadvantage after their appointment.
(6) The Central Government shall provide the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners with such officers and employees as may be necessary for the efficient performance of their functions under this Act, and the salaries and allowances payable to, and the terms and conditions of service of the officers and other employees appointed for the purpose of this Act shall be such as may be prescribed.
This section talks about the terms of service of the Chief Information Commissioner. This includes term, age of retirement, salaries and allowances.

14. Removal of Chief Information Commissioner or Information Commissioner.—

(1) Subject to the provisions of sub‑section (3), the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner shall be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner, as the case may be, ought on such ground be removed.
(2) The President may suspend from office, and if deem necessary prohibit also from attending the office during inquiry, the Chief Information Commissioner or Information Commissioner in respect of whom a reference has been made to the Supreme Court under sub‑section (1) until the President has passed orders on receipt of the report of the Supreme Court on such reference.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub‑section (1), the President may by order remove from office the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner if the Chief Information Commissioner or a Information Commissioner, as the case may be,— (a) is adjudged an insolvent; or (b) has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the President, involves moral turpitude; or (c) engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or (d) is, in the opinion of the President, unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or (e) has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the Chief Information Commissioner or a Information Commissioner.
(4) If the Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner is, in any way, concerned or interested in any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the Government of India or participates in any way in the profit thereof or in any benefit or emolument arising therefrom otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company, he shall, for the purposes of sub‑section (1), be deemed to be guilty of misbehaviour.
This section talks about the process by which the Chief Information Commissioner or Information Commissioner can be removed.

15. Constitution of State Information Commission.—

(1) Every State Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a body to be known as the (name of the State) Information Commission to exercise the powers conferred on, and to perform the functions assigned to, it under this Act.
(2) The State Information Commission shall consist of— (a) the State Chief Information Commissioner; and (b) such number of State Information Commissioners, not exceeding ten, as may be deemed necessary.
(3) The State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of a committee consisting of— (i) the Chief Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee; (ii) the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly; and (iii) a Cabinet Ministrer to be nominated by the Chief Minister. Explanation.— For the purposes of removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that where the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly has not been recognised as such, the Leader of the single largest group in opposition of the Government in the Legislative Assembly shall be deemed to be the Leader of the Opposition.
(4) The general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the State Information Commission shall vest in the State Chief Information Commissioner who shall be assisted by the State Information Commissioners and may exercise all such powers and do all such acts and things which may be exercised or done by the State Information Commission autonomously without being subjected to directions by any other authority under this Act.
(5) The State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
(6) The State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union territory, as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
(7) The headquarters of the State Information Commission shall be at such place in the State as the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify and the State Information Commission may, with the previous approval of the State Government, establish offices at other places in the State.
This section talks about the setting of State Information Commission. The State Information Commission can conduct inquiries into complaints regarding public authorities dealing of RTI applications. For more details on individual state information commissions, please click here.

16. Term of office and conditions of service.—

(1) The State Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment: Provided that no State Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office as such after he has attained the age of sixty‑five years.
(2) Every State Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office or till he attains the age of sixty‑five years, whichever is earlier, and shall not be eligible for reappointment as such State Information Commissioner: Provided that every State Information Commissioner shall, on vacating his office under this sub‑section, be eligible for appointment as the State Chief Information Commissioner in the manner specified in sub‑section (3) of section 15: Provided further that where the State Information Commissioner is appointed as the State Chief Information Commissioner, his term of office shall not be more than five years in aggregate as the State Information Commissioner and the State Chief Information Commissioner.
(3) The State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner, shall before he enters upon his office make and subscribe before the Governor or some other person appointed by him in that behalf, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the First Schedule.
(4) The State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner may, at any time, by writing under his hand addressed to the Governor, resign from his office: Provided that the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner may be removed in the manner specified under section 17.
(5) The salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of— (a) the State Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner; (b) the State Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Secretary to the State Government: Provided that if the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner, at the time of his appointment is, in receipt of a pension (other than a disability or wound pension) in respect of any previous service under the Government of India or under the Government of a State, his salary in respect of the service as the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner shall be reduced by the amount of that pension including any portion of pension which was commuted and pension equivalent of other forms of retirement benefits excluding pension equivalent of retirement gratuity: Provided further that where the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner if, at the time of his appointment is, in receipt of retirement benefits in respect of any previous service rendered in a Corporation established by or under any Central Act or State Act or a Government company owned or controlled by the Central Government or the State Government, his salary in respect of the service as the State Chief Information Commissioner or the State Information Commissioner shall be reduced by the amount of pension equivalent to the retirement benefits: Provided also that the salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners shall not be varied to their disadvantage after their appointment.
(6) The State Government shall provide the State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners with such officers and employees as may be necessary for the efficient performance of their functions under this Act, and the salaries and allowances payable to and the terms and conditions of service of the officers and other employees appointed for the purpose of this Act shall be such as may be prescribed.
This section talks about the terms of service of the State Information Commissioner. This includes term, age of retirement, salaries and allowances.

17. Removal of State Chief Information Commissioner or State Information Commissioner.—

(1) Subject to the provisions of sub‑section (3), the State Chief Information Commissioner or any State Information Commissioner shall be removed from his office only by order of the Governor on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the Governor, has on inquiry, reported that the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner, as the case may be, ought on such ground be removed.
(2) The Governor may suspend from office, and if deem necessary prohibit also from attending the office during inquiry, the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner in respect of whom a reference has been made to the Supreme Court under sub‑section (1) until the Governor has passed orders on receipt of the report of the Supreme Court on such reference.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub‑section (1), the Governor may by order remove from office the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner if a State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner, as the case may be,— (a) is adjudged an insolvent; or (b) has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the Governor, involves moral turpitude; or (c) engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or (d) is, in the opinion of the Governor, unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or (e) has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the State Chief Information Commissioner or a State Information Commissioner.
(4) If the State Chief Information Commissioner or any State Information Commissioner is, in any way, concerned or interested in any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the Government of the State or participates in any way in the profit thereof or in any benefit or emoluments arising therefrom otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company, he shall, for the purposes of sub‑section (1), be deemed to be guilty of misbehaviour.
This section talks about the process by which the State Chief Information Commissioner or State Information Commissioner can be removed.

18. Powers and functions of Information Commission.—

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall be the duty of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission as the case may be to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person,— (a) who has been unable to submit a request to a Central Public Information Officer, or State Public Information Officer as the case may be, either by reason that no such officer has been appointed under this Act, or because the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has refused to accept his or her application for information or appeal under this Act for forwarding the same to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer or Senior Officer specified in sub‑section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be; (b) who has been refused access to any information requested under this Act; (c) who has not been given a response to a request for information or access to information within the time limits specified under this Act; (d) who has been required to pay an amount of fee which he or she considers unreasonable; (e) who believes that he or she has been given incomplete, misleading or false information under this Act; and (f) in respect of any other matter relating to requesting or obtaining access to records under this Act.
(2) Where the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire into the matter, it may initiate an inquiry in respect thereof.
(3) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be shall, while inquiring into any matter under this section, have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of the following matters, namely:— (a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce the documents or things; (b) requiring the discovery and inspection of documents; (c) receiving evidence on affidavit; (d) requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office; (e) issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents; and (f) any other matter which may be prescribed.
(4) Notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other Act of Parliament, or the State Legislature, as the case may be, the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, may, during the inquiry of any complaint under this Act, examine any record to which this Act applies which is under the control of the public authority, and no such record may be withheld from it on any grounds.

What can I do if I have a complaint with the way in which the PIO handled my RTI application?

Yes, you can approach the higher authorities established under this Act - the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission. They have a duty under this Act to inquire into your complaint.

In what situations can I make a complaint?

You can make a complaint in the following situations:
  • when the public authority has not appointed a PIO in the first place;
  • when a PIO has refused to give information;
  • when a PIO has not given you information within the allowed time;
  • when the PIO has asked for too much fees for giving you the information; and
  • when the PIO has given you incomplete or wrong information.

What is the Central or State Information Commission supposed to do when it receives a complaint?

If the Commission is convinced that there are reasonable grounds in the complaint, it has to initiate an inquiry into the matter.

How can the Central or State Information Commission conduct an inquiry?

For the purpose of conducting an inquiry, it has the same powers as a civil court. This means that it can ask for people to come and be witnesses or submit relevant documents as evidence, inspect these documents, and ask for any public records.

19. Appeal.—

(1) Any person who, does not receive a decision within the time specified in sub­-section (1) or clause (a) of sub‑section (3) of section 7, or is aggrieved by a decision of the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the receipt of such a decision prefer an appeal to such officer who is senior in rank to the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, in each public authority: Provided that such officer may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of thirty days if he or she is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.
(2) Where an appeal is preferred against an order made by a Central Public Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, under section 11 to disclose third party information, the appeal by the concerned third party shall be made within thirty days from the date of the order.
(3) A second appeal against the decision under sub‑section (1) shall lie within ninety days from the date on which the decision should have been made or was actually received, with the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission: Provided that the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of ninety days if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.
(4) If the decision of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, against which an appeal is preferred relates to information of a third party, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be shall give a reasonable opportunity of being heard to that third party.
(5) In any appeal proceedings, the onus to prove that a denial of a request was justified shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, who denied the request.
(6) An appeal under sub‑section (1) or sub‑section (2) shall be disposed of within thirty days of the receipt of the appeal or within such extended period not exceeding a total of forty‑five days from the date of filing thereof, as the case may be, for reasons to be recorded in writing.
(7) The decision of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall be binding.
(8) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to,— (a) require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, including— (i) by providing access to information, if so requested, in a particular form; (ii) by appointing a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be; (iii) by publishing certain information or categories of information; (iv) by making necessary changes to its practices in relation to the maintenance, management and destruction of records; (v) by enhancing the provision of training on the right to information for its officials; (vi) by providing it with an annual report in compliance with clause (b) of sub‑section (1) of section 4; (b) require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered; (c) impose any of the penalties provided under this Act; (d) reject the application.
(9) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall give notice of its decision, including any right of appeal, to the complainant and the public authority.
(10) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall decide the appeal in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed.

What can I do not receive a decision from the PIO within 30 days? Is there a possibility of appeal?

You can file an appeal against the decision of the PIO before an officer who is senior to the PIO. You need to file this appeal within 30 days.

Can this time period be extended?

Yes, if the officer feels that the delay is justified, she may condone the delay in your filing of your appeal.

To whom should you make the appeal?

Usually the public authority will state who the appellate authority is on its website or at its office. This will be an officer who is senior in rank to the PIO.

Can a third party appeal against a PIO's decision to reveal some information that the third party wished to keep confidential?

Yes, the third party can file an appeal within 30 days of the date of the order by the PIO.

What if I am not satisfied with the first appeal decision?

You can make a second appeal within 90 days to Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission.

What is the format of the second appeal and how should I make it?

  • The format of appeal is found in the Appendix to the Rules. A number of documents have to be submitted including copies of the application to the PIO, reply (if any), first appeal etc.
  • This process is followed in most States as well, more information can be found on the websites of the respective states.
  • If the decision concerns information of a third party, the decision should be given a chance to present its case before the Information Commission.

Whose responsibility is it to prove that the refusal to provide information was justified?

The responsibility is on the PIO which refused this information.

How quickly should an appeal be heard and decided?

The Information Commission should finish the appeal in 30 days. This can be extended to forty-five days with reasons being recorded for the extension.

What powers does the Central or State Information Commission have while making a decision?

In order to make a decision, the Information Commission can ask the public authority to:
  • provide information in a particular manner;
  • appoint a PIO;
  • publish relevant information;
  • manage records properly;
  • conduct training programmes for officials;
  • provide an annual report;
  • provide compensation to any complainant.
It can also impose penalties and reject specific applications.

20. Penalties.—

(1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub‑section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty‑five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be.
(2) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause and persistently, failed to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub‑section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall recommend for disciplinary action against the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, under the service rules applicable to him.
What is the penalty on the PIO for not giving information or giving wrong information?
  • Yes, the Central or State Information Commission can impose a daily penalty of Rs. 250 on the public information officer has to be paid until the information is provided. However, the total amount of the penalty should not exceed Rs. 25,000.
  • The PIO has to be given a chance to present her case before the penalty is decided - however, the burden is on her to prove that she acted lawfully.
  • Disciplinary action can also be taken against the PIO in accordance with their service rules.

21. Protection of action taken in good faith.—

No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act or any rule made thereunder.
Any person who has done any action in good faith under this Act cannot be pulled up in court.

22. Act to have overriding effect.—

The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.
This Act will override any other law such as the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

23. Bar of jurisdiction of courts.—

No court shall entertain any suit, application or other proceeding in respect of any order made under this Act and no such order shall be called in question otherwise than by way of an appeal under this Act.

Can I go to an ordinary civil court and file a complaint under this Act?

No, all disputes should be resolved by the bodies created under this Act such as the officer in charge of an appeal in a public authority or a Central/State Information Commission

24. Act not to apply to certain organizations.—

(1) Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, being organisations established by the Central Government or any information furnished by such organisations to that Government: Provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub‑section: Provided further that in the case of information sought for is in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the Central Information Commission, and notwithstanding anything contained in Section 7, such information shall be provided within forty‑five days from the date of the receipt of request.
(2) The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, amend the Schedule by including therein any other intelligence or security organisation established by that Government or omitting therefrom any organisation already specified therein and on the publication of such notification, such organisation shall be deemed to be included in or, as the case may be, omitted from the Schedule.
(3) Every notification issued under sub‑section (2) shall be laid before each House of Parliament.
(4) Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to such intelligence and security organisations, being organisations established by the State Government, as that Government may, from time to time, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify: Provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub‑section: Provided further that in the case of information sought for is in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the State Information Commission and, notwithstanding anything contained in Section 7, such information shall be provided within forty‑five days from the date of the receipt of request.
(5) Every notification issued under sub‑section (4) shall be laid before the State Legislature.

Is there any organization that can be excluded from having to give information under this Act?

Yes, the list of organisations in the Second Schedule and security and intelligence organisations of State Governments (mentioned in government notifications) are exempt from giving information. However, information relating to corruption or human rights violations in such organisations can be asked for and provided after the Central Information Commission agrees to it. This has to be provided in 45 days.

25. Monitoring and reporting.—

(1) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall, as soon as practicable after the end of each year, prepare a report on the implementation of the provisions of this Act during that year and forward a copy thereof to the appropriate Government.
(2) Each Ministry or Department shall, in relation to the public authorities within their jurisdiction, collect and provide such information to the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, as is required to prepare the report under this section and comply with the requirements concerning the furnishing of that information and keeping of records for the purposes of this section.
(3) Each report shall state in respect of the year to which the report relates,— (a) the number of requests made to each public authority; (b) the number of decisions where applicants were not entitled to access to the documents pursuant to the requests, the provisions of this Act under which these decisions were made and the number of times such provisions were invoked; (c) the number of appeals referred to the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, for review, the nature of the appeals and the outcome of the appeals; (d) particulars of any disciplinary action taken against any officer in respect of the administration of this Act; (e) the amount of charges collected by each public authority under this Act; (f) any facts which indicate an effort by the public authorities to administer and implement the spirit and intention of this Act; (g) recommendations for reform, including recommendations in respect of the particular public authorities, for the development, improvement, modernisation, reform or amendment to this Act or other legislation or common law or any other matter relevant for operationalising the right to access information.
(4) The Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be may, as soon as practicable after the end of each year, cause a copy of the report of the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, referred to in sub-section (1) to be laid before each House of Parliament or, as the case may be, before each House of the State Legislature, where there are two Houses, and where there, is one House of the State Legislature before that House.
(5) If it appears to the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be that the practice of a public authority in relation to the exercise of its functions under this Act does not conform with the provisions or spirit of this Act, it may give to the authority a recommendation specifying the steps which ought in its opinion to be taken for promoting such conformity.
This section talks about the duty of the Central and State Information Commissions to monitor overall implementation of the Act.

26. Appropriate Government to prepare programmes.—

(1) The appropriate Government may, to the extent of availability of financial and other resources,— (a) develop and organise educational programmes to advance the understanding of the public, in particular of disadvantaged communities as to how to exercise the rights contemplated under this Act; (b) encourage public authorities to participate in the development and organisation of programmes referred to in clause (a) and to undertake such programmes themselves; (c) promote timely and effective dissemination of accurate information by public authorities about their activities; and (d) train Central Public Information Officers or State Public Information Officers, as the case may be of public authorities and produce relevant training materials for use by the public authorities themselves.
(2) The appropriate Government shall, within eighteen months from the commencement of this Act, compile in its official language a guide containing such information, in an easily comprehensible form and manner, as may reasonably be required by a person who wishes to exercise any right specified in this Act.
(3) The appropriate Government shall, if necessary, update and publish the guidelines referred to in sub‑section (2) at regular intervals which shall, in particular and without prejudice to the generality of sub‑section (2), include— (a) the objects of this Act; (b) the postal and street address, the phone and fax number and, if available, electronic mail address of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be of every public authority appointed under sub‑section (1) of section 5; (c) the manner and the form in which request for access to an information shall be made to Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be; (d) the assistance available from and the duties of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be of a public authority under this Act; (e) the assistance available from the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be; (f) all remedies in law available regarding an act or failure to act in respect of a right or duty conferred or imposed by this Act including the manner of filing an appeal to the Commission; (g) the provisions providing for the voluntary disclosure of categories of records in accordance with section 4; (h) the notices regarding fees to be paid in relation to requests for access to an information; and (i) any additional regulations or circulars made or issued in relation to obtaining access to an information in accordance with this Act.
(4) The appropriate Government must, if necessary, update and publish the guidelines at regular intervals.
This section talks about the responsibility of the government in spreading awareness, training, and creating guidelines for the implementation of this law.The appropriate government has to issue guides on how to access the right to information. The Central Government guide can be accessed here. The guides have to contain details regarding the objects of the Act and the authorities concerned with implementation of the Act.

27. Power to make rules by Appropriate Government.—

(1) The Appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules to carry out the provisions of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:— (a) the cost of the medium or print cost price of the materials to be disseminated under sub‑section (4) of section 4; (b) the fee payable under sub‑section (1) of section 6; (c) the fee payable under sub‑sections (1) and (5) of section 7; (d) the salaries and allowances payable to and the terms and conditions of service of the officers and other employees under sub‑section (6) of section 13 and sub‑section (6) of section 16; (e) the procedure to be adopted by the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, in deciding the appeals under sub‑section (10) of section 19; and (f) any other matter which is required to be, or may be, prescribed.
This section deals with the power of the appropriate government to make rules.

28. Power to make rules by competent authority.—

(1) The competent authority may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules to carry out the provisions of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:— (i) the cost of the medium or print cost price of the materials to be disseminated under sub‑section (4) of section 4; (ii) the fee payable under sub‑section (1) of section 6; (iii) the fee payable under sub‑section (1) of section 7; and (iv) any other matter which is required to be, or may be, prescribed.
This section deals with the power of the competent authority to make further rules.

29. Laying of rules.—

(1) Every rule made by the Central Government under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament, while it is in session, for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid, both Houses agree in making any modification in the rule or both Houses agree that the rule should not be made, the rule shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be; so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule.
(2) Every rule made under this Act by a State Government shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is notified, before the State Legislature.

What happens to any rules made under this Act?

They have to be introduced in both Houses of Parliament, which will then have to approve the rules.

30. Power to remove difficulties.—

(1) If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, by order published in the Official Gazette, make such provisions not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act as appear to it to be necessary or expedient for removal of the difficulty: Provided that no such order shall be made after the expiry of a period of two years from the date of the commencement of this Act.
(2) Every order made under this section shall, as soon as may be after it is made, be laid before each House of Parliament.
The Central Government can pass orders to remove difficulties in implementation of the Act.

31. Repeal.—

The Freedom of Information Act, 2002 (5 of 2003) is hereby repealed.
The Freedom of Information Act, 2002 was repealed by this law.

THE FIRST SCHEDULE

[See sections 13 (3) and 16(3)]
FORM OF OATH OR AFFIRMATION TO BE MADE BY THE CHIEF INFORMATION COMMISSIONER/THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER/THE STATE CHIEF INFORMATION COMMISSIONER/THE STATE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER "I, ......................................, having been appointed Chief Information Commissioner/Information Commissioner/State Chief Information Commissioner/State Information Commissioner swear in the name of God that I will bear true faith/ solemnly affirm and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my ability, knowledge and judgment perform the duties of my office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and that I will uphold the Constitution and the laws."

THE SECOND SCHEDULE

[See section 24]
Intelligence And Security Organisation Established By The Central Government
(1) Intelligence Bureau.
(2) Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat.
(3) Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.
(4) Central Economic Intelligence Bureau.
(5) Directorate of Enforcement.
(6) Narcotics Control Bureau.
(7) Aviation Research Centre.
(8) Special Frontier Force.
(9) Border Security Force.
(10) Central Reserve Police Force.
(11) Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
(12) Central Industrial Security Force.
(13) National Security Guards.
(14) Assam Rifles.
(15) Sashtra Seema Bal.
(16) Directorate General of Income-tax (Investigation).
(17) National Technical Research Organisation.
(18) Financial Intelligence Unit , India .
(19) Special Protection Group.
(20) Defence Research and Development Organisation.
(21) Border Road Development Board.
(22) ***.